Search Engine Optimization: 30 Essential SEO Terms

Search Engine Optimization: 30 Essential SEO Terms

In today’s digital age, the success of a business can hinge on its website’s visibility. Whether a B2B or a B2C company, having a strong online presence could make or break the growth prospects of the business.

This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. SEO isn’t just a buzzword, but rather a crucial aspect of digital marketing that can significantly impact a website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. A higher ranking translates into more visitors—and more potential customers or clients—to a website. 

Understanding common SEO terms is vital for everyone from executives to marketing associates who rely on a website for their business. We’ve rounded up a list of basic definitions you should know. 


Search engines use complex algorithms to determine the order in which websites appear on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Google, for instance, has hundreds of ranking factors that affect a website’s position.


SEO analytics tools help track a website’s performance, including traffic, rankings, and user behavior. Google Analytics is a popular choice.

Anchor Text

Text that links to another web page; typically styled in a different color to make it obvious to the user. 


Links from other websites that point to a website. High-quality backlinks from authoritative sources can significantly boost a website’s credibility and search engine ranking.

Black Hat SEO

Unethical tactics intended to manipulate search engines in order to increase a webpage’s rankings; examples include:

  • Keyword stuffing: overuse of keywords in an attempt to boost SEO.
  • Hidden text: including text that is the same color as the page’s background creating invisible text; typically used for keyword stuffing.
  • Doorway pages: pages created to target specific search queries intended to funnel visitors directly to another page on the site.
Bounce Rate

A metric that shows the number of users who leave a webpage after only viewing one page on a website.

Crawling and Indexing

Search engines use web crawlers (bots) to discover and index the pages of a website. Ensuring a site is crawlable and indexable is essential for SEO.

Evergreen Content

Content on a website that stays relevant and doesn’t go out of date.

External Link

Also called an Outbound Link; a link on a website that goes to another website.

Inbound Link

A link coming from another website.

Internal Link

A link on a website that goes to another page on the same website.


Specific words and phrases people type into search engines to find information. Effective keyword research is crucial for targeting the right audience and optimizing content accordingly.

Keyword Density

A metric used to communicate how often a keyword is used within a specific piece of content.

Local SEO

Optimizing a website for local SEO focuses on improving visibility in local search results. It’s vital for brick-and-mortar businesses targeting a specific geographic area.

Long-Tail Keyword

Also called a longtail keyword phase, this is a more detailed search term that’s typically three to five words. They often have less competition and can attract highly targeted traffic. For example, a regular keyword might be “men’s sneakers.” A long-tail keyword would be “men’s red sneakers size 11.”


HTML elements that provide information about a web page to search engines. Also called meta tags, the most important metadata for SEO include the title tag, meta description, and header tags.

Meta Description

A short description (fewer than 160 characters) of the contents of a webpage. It provides an overview of what the page is about and is displayed on the SERP. 

Mobile Optimization

Optimizing a website for mobile use; includes responsive design, fast loading times, and mobile-friendly content.

Off-Page SEO

Activities outside a website that impact its ranking, such as building backlinks, social media marketing, and online reputation management.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO includes optimizing content, meta tags, images, and URL structures of a specific webpage. A web page optimized for SEO improves its chance of ranking, and being displayed on the SERP.

Organic Traffic

Visitors to a website who find it through a search and SERP, rather than a paid ad. 

Orphan Page

A page on a website that doesn’t have any links pointing to it.

Page Speed

This refers to how quickly a web page loads. Faster-loading pages tend to rank higher, as they provide a better user experience.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The process of optimizing a website to improve its visibility on search engines’ organic (non-paid) search results. The goal is to attract more organic traffic by ensuring a website appears higher in search engine rankings.

SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

The page that displays the results of a search query. It includes organic listings, paid ads, featured snippets, and other relevant information.

Search Query

The words or phrases a user types into the search field of a search engine. 

Search Volume

The number of times a keyword or longtail keyword phrase is entered as a search query in a given period of time. Search volume is typically measured in months. 

Title Tag

An HTML element on a web page that tells the user the name of the page and appears on a SERP.


The number of visits to a website.

White Hat SEO

SEO techniques that follow best practice standards are the opposite of Black Hat SEO. Grey Hat SEO is a term used to describe tactics and strategies that blend both types.

In the evolving landscape of digital marketing, understanding SEO terminology is essential for anyone who has a website for their business. Doing so can result in more informed decisions that can ultimately improve a website’s search engine ranking and improve the chances of reaching the company’s target audience.

Looking to learn more about SEO and how it can benefit your digital marketing goals? Contact us to set up a call.

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